January 8, 2008

NFL Timeline, with Map: 1920-1933 / A history of the Dayton Triangles’ franchise; and a brief mention of the 1926 NFL-champions the Frankford Yellow Jackets, and the 1928 NFL-champions the Providence Steam Roller / Plus an illustrated list of all defunct NFL teams that played at least 4 seasons.


The early days of the National Football League are criminally under-reported.  In America, there is a gigantic publishing industry for books on baseball… the glorious days of yore, and all that.  Academic sorts just love going on and on about baseball’s storied past.  Meanwhile, the amount of books on professional gridiron football’s wild and wooly formative years is scant.  I think publishers think Joe-six-pack NFL fan doesn’t read books, let alone buy them.  There might be some truth to this, because after all, NFL football appeals to the short attention-span viewer, with its segmented run of play, flashy graphics, and over the top style of reporting by the announcers. 

Very few NFL fans know about the Dayton Triangles,  the Frankford Yellow Jackets,  and the Providence Steam Roller.  

The Dayton Triangles were an original team from the APFA, which was formed in 1920.  [The American Professional Football Association became the NFL in 1922.]  The Triangles wore dark-royal-blue-and-white uniforms, with zebra-striped sleeves.  The Dayton Triangles played 10 seasons in the league, before moving to Brooklyn, NY, in 1930.       **{See this history of the Dayton Triangles.}

The Triangles became known as the Brooklyn Dodgers when they moved east, in 1930.  This team had no affiliation with the Major League Baseball club known as the Brooklyn Dodgers.   The Brooklyn Football Dodgers played 16 seasons in the NFL, from 1930 to 1945, when they were forced to merge with the NFL’s Boston Yanks.  {See this.}  The Boston Yanks moved to New York as the Bulldogs, then the Yanks, but were sold back to the league, in  1952.  This franchise was awarded to a group of businessmen in Dallas, Texas, in 1952, but the Dallas Texans of 1952 couldn’t draw enough fans to the Cotton Bowl, and went belly-up. As it was in the middle of the season, the league took over the club, and played the last couple of games as a traveling team with a base in Hershey, PA. The last two games the Dallas Texans played after being taken over by the league were as the home team versus the Chicago Bears in the Rubber Bowl in Akron, OH on Thanksgiving Day in 1952 [the only game the hapless Dallas Texans of the NFL ever won], and against the Lions in Detroit.

The NFL does not recognize the link between the original Dallas Texans (1952), and the second Baltimore Colts (1953-1984), even though the roster of the old Texans (including players like Art Donovan, and Gino Marchetti) was transferred to the Baltimore Colts, in 1953.  {see this.}  The second Baltimore Colts also maintained the blue and white color scheme of the old Dallas Texans (as well as that of the Dayton Triangles).  [The original Baltimore Colts played 3 seasons in the AAFC, and one season in the NFL, from 1947 to 1950, and wore green and silver uniforms.]    Here is a great article written by NFL historian Bob Carroll (at, {‘How to get from Dayton to Indianapolis by way of Brooklyn, Boston, New York, Dallas, Hershey and Baltimore }.    The second Baltimore Colts existed from 1953 to March 29, 1984, when owner Robert Irsay, threatened with seizure of his franchise by the Maryland State Legislature (due to a dispute over the stadium), snuck the team’s entire possessions out in U-Haul moving vans, at 3 in the morning…  destination, Indianapolis, Indiana, and the newly built Hoosier Dome.  The Indianapolis Colts have remained in their dome stadium since then, finally winning an NFL Title in last season’s Super Bowl.  {See this article, from USA Today, during last year’s NFL playoffs.}

The Frankford Yellow Jackets and the Providence Steam Roller are the last two defunct teams to win an NFL championship.  The Frankford Yellow Jackets were in the NFL from 1924 to 1931, and were from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  They sported dark blue and yellow uniforms.  They won the NFL Title in 1926.  The Providence Steam Roller, from Rhode Island, were in the NFL from 1925 to 1931.  They wore black, with orange trim.  They won the NFL Title in 1928.  They played in a 10,000 seat bicycle velodrome (seriously).  {See this.}  Basically, the Great Depression killed off both these teams.  The NFL was no money-making venture back then, to say the least.  
Click this icon for a list of all defunct NFL teams that played at least 4 seasons..

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